US Poised to Hit Obama's Target of 10,000 Syrian Refugees

Manila Bulletin, August 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

US Poised to Hit Obama's Target of 10,000 Syrian Refugees


WASHINGTON -- After a slow start, it appears increasingly likely that the Obama administration will hit its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States before the end of September.

State Department figures show that 2,340 Syrian refugees arrived last month in the United States.

That's more than what occurred during the entire seven months after President Barack Obama directed his team to prepare for 10,000 admissions from the war-torn country. Total admissions for the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30, now come to about 7,900, and the vast majority of them are Sunni Muslims, records show.

If the pace from June and July continues this month, the target should be reached with a couple weeks to spare before Obama heads to the United Nations to urge world leaders to admit more refugees and to increase funding for relief organizations. The U.N. General Assembly is holding a summit to address the large movements of refugees and migrants that stems primarily from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

Obama would have been hard-pressed to make the case for other countries to do more with the U.S. failing to reach a goal that amounts to only about 2 percent of the 480,000 Syrian refugees in need of resettlement.

Organizations that help relocate Syrian refugees said the White House and other administration officials have grown increasingly confident of hitting the target.

"They put more resources on it, which is allowing more individual's to be processed and therefore able to travel," said Stacie Blake, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, one of nine groups that help resettle Syrian refugees.

Obama's call for 10,000 entries this year was criticized by most Republican governors and the GOP presidential candidates, who argued that the government lacked an adequate screening system to prevent suspected terrorists from slipping into the U.S.

Extremist attacks in Europe and the U.S. have increased concerns about immigration. An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in early July showed that 69 percent of Republicans say they favor the temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Overall, Americans opposed such a ban by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., sent a letter to Obama on Thursday calling on him to stop accepting Syrian refugees as a matter of national security. …

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